Originally published in the Deseret News.
New York Times columnist David Brooks commented about the first few days of the Trump administration by coining the term, “A mean wind is blowing.” The saying stuck with me. Everything I’m feeling right now about my country is like a dark, ominous and disquieting wind.
I’m not alone. Our country is in a state of national agitation. Protests pour into our streets and airports. Fake news and alternative facts fill the airwaves. Oxford Dictionaries even selected “post-truth” as 2016’s international word of the year. They define it as a circumstance in which “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
I’m left trying to explain what facts cannot defend a president who exaggerates the size of his inaugural crowd, makes claims of voter fraud, suggests an import tax on Mexico, squashes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, tweets about World War III, places a ban on vetted refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, and fires his acting attorney general. And this is only the first 10 days!
I’m a proud mother of two children. They are both millennials and do all the things millennials do — they love to eat out, sleep with their cellphones and travel to exotic places. They also follow politics and ask lots of questions. These days, I’m having trouble responding to their inquiries.
Like my children, the American people are letting their sentiments be heard. The largest public protests since the sixties say something. A 40 percent approval rating does too. How long can this agitation last?
Political commentator Alex Castellanos recently said, “Donald Trump has had no honeymoon because there’s been no marriage.” That’s partly true. There is a marriage with his supporters. He won the election and is doing exactly what he said he would do during the campaign. There’s also a marriage with the Republican Congress, although the cracks get wider every day. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham commented on Trump’s policies towards Mexico by tweeting, “Mucho Sad.”
For people like me, the sadness has brought a separation. I’m a registered Republican who disagrees with most of President Trump’s policies and is offended by his mean style and personal character. I’m still trying to keep an open mind. Still other Republicans have filed for divorce papers altogether.
Marriage or no marriage, everyone can feel the “wind.” For some, it is refreshing. The change they voted for is occurring in our land. For others, the wind is nasty and dangerous. Many feel the wind will tip us over.
I find the mean wind phraseology to be “Dylanesque.” Bob Dylan’s trademark song “Blowin’ in the Wind” was an anthem of the civil rights movement. It was sung at voter registration rallies, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and during the march in Selma, Alabama.
When asked about the song’s meaning in 1962, Dylan simply said, “There ain’t much I can say about this song, except the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” He said, “It’s the wind.”
If the answer is blowing in the wind, what’s the question? I think the question is this: Is Donald Trump a disruptive, transitional figure or an enduring political leader? If he’s a temporary fix to major political parties that lost their way, I can deal with that. Let the realignment begin. Liberals and conservatives, bring your best talent forward and start solving problems.
If Donald Trump is an enduring political leader and the future of America, I fear we are losing our soul. America’s soul reveres religious freedom, sets an example of liberty and charity to the world, and welcomes the world’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” America’s soul is what Donald Trump is not.
If we are not careful, I fear the mean wind will be classified as a full-blown hurricane instead of a seasonal storm. I’m praying that Republicans and Democrats alike will put their best foot forward and calm the storm.